A Review of SEIA’S Solar Residential Consumer Guide

A great tool for homeowners is the Solar Residential Consumer Guide, written by the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA). This article will offer a short overview of what the guide is, how it can be used, and a few important topics to dedicate extra time to exploring.

While making the decision to go solar might be easy for some, many homeowners and business owners may need some guidance on what the “next best step” should be. At the Solar Rights Alliance, we believe in education. The more someone learns about solar and how solar fits into their homes or business models, the more confident and content they will be with their investment.

SEIA Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. To continue their efforts to educate the public about residential solar installations, leading to a better solar experience, SEIA launched, a free, online guide for homeowners exploring residential solar solutions.  This guide was designed to be a one-stop shop for interested parties to learn more about the basics of solar energy and ownership options.

Education about residential solar if vital. When people have access to good information, they are more likely to purchase a high-quality solar system at a good price. The guide outlines core concepts, questions to ask installers, and offers insights into what solar is and how it works.   The updated guide even dedicates a section to real estate and answers to many of the questions homeowners have regarding what happens in they sell their home.

How Can the New Consumer Guide Be Used?

For the amount of information packed into this digital guide, it is easy to navigate. First, it is designed in a manner that allows for easy printing.  Many people still prefer hard copies over digital copies and the guide has a layout that meets that need.

Second, the guide is broken up into sections that are designated by bold font. If you are interested in learning about how solar works, a quick scan of the 8-page packet will bring you specifically to the section dedicated to how solar works.

The comprehensive nature of the guide provides a strong platform of what people should be asking as consumers and what information they should be familiar with prior to making their solar decision, but it also provides increased access to more resources.

Important Solar Consumer Topics in the SEIA Guide

  1. Learn about solar:  This guide does an excellent guide of teaching the basics of solar.  Points of interest outlined in the guide include, “How Solar Works” and “How Electricity is Generated.”
  2. Financial Options:  There are many ways in which people make financial commitments to solar.  The options range from leasing to financing to making a purchase with cash. This guide outlines the different options, including paying cash, finance options, leases and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).
  3. How to ‘Do Your Homework’: This guide takes the time to outline the core topic areas a potential solar owner should be learning more about before making their purchase.  One topic of discussion is “Understand any tax credits or other incentives,” which explains the current federal tax incentives that are valid through 2019.
  4. Key Questions to Ask: The SEIA consumer guide outlines important questions you should ask each and every solar finance and installation company you work with.  Once you learn the answers, you will begin to have a baseline of good information to begin making strong decisions with. Some questions the guide introduces include, “What is the total cost of the solar system,” “If there is a blackout, what will happen to my system,” and “Will my system be net-metered?  And how will I be compensated for excess electricity generated by the system,”

Other Resources to Tap

As an addendum, we encourage potential California solar owners to also review Solar Rights Alliance’s tips for finding a solar installer that is right for you. This includes advice on ensuring that your local installer has committed to an enforceable code of ethics and has the proper credentials and training, as well as a few tried-and-true methods to identify and select an installer. Read: Six Tips for Finding the Right Solar Installer For You.

Education is the First Step

The first step to making a good decision is education.  Whether we take the time to ask our neighbors, friends, family or local experts, taking the time to learn about solar is the best start to becoming the owner of a solar PV system.  The newly updated and released Solar Consumer Guide by SEIA, alongside the other resources they provide, is a simple, yet informative, strategy to begin your journey into residential solar installations.